Analysis

Will Future Teslas Have Lasers For Wipers, Among Other Patented Innovations?

This article is about the five possible unusual innovations that you may see in a production Tesla in the not too distant future.

Tesla files a lot of patents, as do all manufacturers, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that a patent filing confirms a particular gadget will make it into production. Some of the ideas they want patented under their name seem like they are fit for a sci-fi flick, while others are more down to earth and the likelihood that they’ll reach production is higher.

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Which out of all these Tesla patents is the craziest? Well, that distinction has to go to what the manufacturer wants to replace windscreen wipers with – almost replace them, anyway, because the laser beams would actually just remove debris and dirt from the screen, and not so much keep raindrops off the screen so that the driver can see ahead.

So while this rather cool idea has been presented as a possible replacement for traditional wipers, Tesla is envisioning it more as a cleaning solution that would not only be used on glazed surfaces, but photovoltaic panels as well. We therefore could see both the lasers and physical wipers implemented on the same vehicle.

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Next up is the steering wheel which will get touch-sensitive panels – they’re not touchscreens, as some have erroneously stated; they are a similar solution to what manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz are already offering on production vehicles. We’ve examined this particular patent filing in detail, if you want to check it out more thouroughly.

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Another that is less talked about is for an age detection system that is built into the seats. Its goal is to approximate not only the age of the occupant, but also their rough size and weight. This is vital information in the event of a crash so that the car knows which airbags to deploy and how severely to deploy them.

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Tesla also wants the car to know if any occupants are improperly using the seat belt. Basically, this takes the seatbelt sensors that are already in all new cars to the next level. Through sensors, the car will know, for instance, if any of the passengers are not fully restrained by the belt (say, they have one arm over the belt) or if it’s just fastened to the seat and someone is basically just sitting on it.

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If you’ve ever driven electric vehicles, then you’ll know that their range predictions are often not accurate. Most of this inaccuracy is down to how the car is used and the inherently different energy consumption, which is why Tesla has filed a patent for a feature in the navigation system that ‘ measures energy-versus-distance to calculate when your EV will run out in real time, depending on predicted driver characteristics, the weather and traffic.’

Basically, the goal behind it is to give the driver a more accurate picture of how much range the car has at any given point. Similar solutions are already present in some EVs, although this one from Tesla will apparently be more advanced.

Source: Rivervale Leasing

This article originally appeared on Inside EVs.

Daks

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Oct 21, 2020
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90
Anchorage, AK USA
Maybe lasers with wiper backup? Is a laser going to have enough power to remove a ton of snow/ice like a wiper?

Touchscreen steering wheel seems like something that could happen and would neat if you could also customize it. Maybe I have more commonly used things I want to do then someone else. The sensors for occupant type or seatbelt usage can't be that difficult either....
 

katbc

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Jul 11, 2020
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41
British Columbia
I like the physical button and scroll wheel, otherwise I'd think I have to look at the wheel to make sure I'm pressing the right area (I'm sure muscle memory would kick in real quick though and I'd adapt like everything else I've adapted to). I'm just remembering how I could text on the old button phones without looking down (not in the car!) because I could physically feel the buttons. I can see my future children roll their eyes at this comment.

I'd very much like it if when someone isn't wearing their seatbelt, or if they are wearing it incorrectly, the driver can touch the screen of that seat (you know how it comes up with a read "no seatbelt" signal) and it makes a fart sound or something.

I'm not too worried about anything Tesla comes out with, they come out with great stuff, and if it isn't good, they change it. I'm sure they've thought about lasers in the eyes.. come on people, they won't do that if it's a risk.
 
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HankLloydRight

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You can see that most of the claims for the "laser glass cleaner" were rejected due to prior art: US20190351873 PULSED LASER CLEANING OF DEBRIS ACCUMULATED ON GLASS ARTICLES IN VEHICLES AND PHOTOVOLTAIC ASSEMBLIES (scroll to the bottom).

Also, as a Laser Safety Officer (LSO), I'm pretty sure they wont be able to find a wavelength of laser that's powerful enough to actually remove debris and not be harmful to humans (even in a "pulsed" mode). Any visible laser over 5mw used in commerce (i.e. not in private) can be harmful to humans and is regulated by the FDA and Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). And 5mw is really not powerful at all, considering most laser pointers are in the hundred-mw range. Any laser used outdoors over 5mw also requires filing with the FAA PER USE. Having lasers in cars driving around pointed upwards (towards the windshield) is a non-starter on so many levels it's not even funny. Even having a laser with enough power to just melt ice is going to be in the several watt range (1000mw) and tightly regulated. This is mostly for visible laser wavelengths, but even lasers in the IR or UV range are very dangerous to humans especially because we can't see the emitted light and can blind you without even realizing it.

Laser Pointer Safety - Laser Classes (1, 1M, 2, 2M, 3R, 3B, 4)

It sounds like someone at Tesla said "hey, let's use a freakin' laser to blast debris off of a windshield" without even researching the prior art (there are two patents already that cover most of Tesla's patent application)... or knowing a single thing about laser strength or laser safety regulations in the U.S. :rolleyes:

q59pHszM02vt9S0zCSD6IJYJue8T2OaAURtSOEdECa7Tvb_MAZLW5nZcU1pdSpKHTUy93Wd4wVfkMQbrG0iuYsq3hXcg4IbSvGhottQjGys1kTmlSaNKQ_xYfBPEMvw6RFyk9QAiH7JOXSBk
 
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dark cloud

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Apr 14, 2018
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If they could aim the lasers away from windshield, towards the incoming debris, and use the lasers to zap the moisture from the bugs before they hit the windshield, or vapourize them completely, along with the other debris, that would be useful. Of course that means they would all be pointing towards the sky, and those annoying pilots would start complaining...
 

CLK350

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Oct 15, 2019
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New York City
The next logical step improvement Tesla could bring hasn't been patented, or is already so well known there is no patent for it. Altho they could well try and patent an unusual variation of it. Much more significant than windshield wipers stuff.

To wit: what Munroe already suggested, get rid of the archaic steering wheel, and use instead a steering stick like they do in airplanes.
This would free up a lot of space for the driver (+comfort) and enable one size fits all manufacturing, with dual (copilot) driver possibility.
TESLA.Munro.steering.jpg
 

HankLloydRight

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Jan 18, 2014
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The next logical step improvement Tesla could bring hasn't been patented, or is already so well known there is no patent for it. Altho they could well try and patent an unusual variation of it. Much more significant than windshield wipers stuff.

To wit: what Munroe already suggested, get rid of the archaic steering wheel, and use instead a steering stick like they do in airplanes.
This would free up a lot of space for the driver (+comfort) and enable one size fits all manufacturing, with dual (copilot) driver possibility.

MB tried this in the 90s:

Did You Know Mercedes-Benz Tested a Joystick Control System in the 1998 SL-Class?
and
1996 Mercedes F200 Imagination: Concept We Forgot
 

CLK350

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Oct 15, 2019
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Ha! didn't know - Just great !

MBZ.concept.jpg




" .. Mercedes explain the system in its own period-correct, oddly translated press release from the original F200:

“Drive-by-wire is a technical solution entailing consequences for the interior, for example. If there is no more steering wheel and no more pedals, the passengers have more space and thus more comfort. It also serves safety since the cockpit and the footwell can be designed completely different. "

Mercedes back in the days - actually up to 2008/ 2009 when it bought Tesla's electric drivetrains for its electric Benz were really topnotch on innovation - sadly no longer .. maybe too many wealthy but clueless besides money/ oil things folks
 

Mikedrives

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Jun 5, 2019
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165
Evanston, IL
...and couldn't the laser be reflected off the windshield and endanger others?

While I have an expert on the line...
Last year I was on a Southwest flight coming in to land at Midway in Chicago- Midway sits among dense residential neighborhoods. It was nighttime and it was Christmastime and I looked down, and thought I was seeing flashbulbs popping over and over from various houses' yards. I wondered if what was happening was that all these households that seemed to have old-timey flashbulbs popping off, if they were really the households that have the laser patterns swirling around on the front of their houses. That was my best guess. So that moment when it appears as a distinct flash, is that when the laser is hitting your eye and etching away at your retinas? Naturally, I couldn't look away...
Any chance those are dangerous, either to the pilots, passengers, or little kids looking out their bedroom windows at the cool laser pointer in their front yards?
 
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HankLloydRight

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...and couldn't the laser be reflected off the windshield and endanger others?

Absolutely.


That was my best guess. So that moment when it appears as a distinct flash, is that when the laser is hitting your eye

Yes.

and etching away at your retinas?

No.

Any chance those are dangerous, either to the pilots, passengers, or little kids looking out their bedroom windows at the cool laser pointer in their front yards?

No. Assuming they are legally sold Class IIIA lasers, they are under 5mw. These are 2mw: https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Projector-Controller-Landscape-Decoration/dp/B01EV4OGAU

But it's not just mW that counts. It's also beam divergence. Low quality lasers have terrible divergence. Assuming the 2mW beam can hit your eye, by the time it reaches an airplane (and through a multi-paned window), the beam as diverged probably to several inches wide if not more. At that divergence and low power, the actual amount of laser light hitting your retinas is way way below the level of damage to human tissue. And also more than mw laser power and beam divergence -- it's also about total time of exposure across the retina. So if you're just seeing a flash for a fraction of a second from a 2mW beam one mile away, the effective power hitting your retina is miniscule. Visible, yes. Harmful? no.
 

Mikedrives

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Jun 5, 2019
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Visible, yes. Harmful? no.

Thanks, Hank Lloyd Right, for all that good info. So much for my theory of getting free Lasik for my nearsightedness by occupying window seats on Southwest flights.
I grew up in a prairie-style FLW house, btw. The guy's focus on curating exactly how one feels when entering a room or occupying a space was... laser-sharp. Mwah-mwaaahhhh.
 
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